Saint John Jessica Doyle

Jessica Doyle says she's afraid fumes from the nearby Irving rail terminal could cause her daughter problems in the future. (Facebook)

A Saint John woman says she is tired of the noise and strong smell of petroleum wafting from the Irving Oil rail terminal on the city's east side.

Jessica Doyle moved into her home on Park Avenue before the terminal was built last year at the end of the causeway, on Bayside Drive.

She says the tranquility of the nearby waterfront has been replaced by noise and fumes now that crude oil from the rail cars is being off-loaded 500 metres away from her property.

"It makes it so you can't live your life properly. You can't open your windows in the summertime, the fumes, you can't breathe from them so you have to close your windows," she said.

'It makes us not want to live here anymore.'- Jessica Doyle, Saint John resident

"You can't go out for walks and do your regular activities. My boyfriend and I, we'll come home from getting groceries, and we'll come into the house and it'll smell like oil.

"So we'll think our oil tank is leaking [but] there's no leak. It's the oil, the fumes have gotten trapped in our home coming up from the bay. So it's bad, it's really bad."

Doyle says her family suffers from breathing issues and headaches, but she's mainly worried about her infant daughter, Willow.

"In the summertime I want her to be able to go into the backyard. And when I'm gardening I want her out there too," she said.

"Her lungs aren't as developed as ours so it could cause her problems in the future.

"It makes us not want to live here anymore."

Clean air activist wants terminal moved

Doyle recently expressed her frustration about the radically altered environment in a blog post on her website. She says she has nightmares about deadly accidents, like the one that killed 47 people in the small Quebec community of Lac-Mégantic.

"You start to have nightmares about the train cars exploding and derailing two blocks from where you live … It's definitely a concern," she said.

Irving Oil recently sent Doyle and other neighbours a letter apologizing for the odour issues. But it didn't say whether they were caused by the refinery or the rail terminal.

Samantha Robinson, a spokesperson with Irving Oil, said in an e-mail that letters were sent "in light of the increased odour that may have been noticed over a two-day period last week."

Irving has adjusted operations in order to minimize the odours, said Robinson.

However, Doyle says the odour problems are longstanding.

Clean air activist Gordon Dalzell shares her concerns and wants the terminal moved away from such a populated area.

"This stuff is still potentially dangerous to move around," he said. "And we've got a lot of it coming into this city."

Dalzell says he doesn't think Irving's plan to introduce a new fleet of safer rail cars will completely ease the fears of city residents.

He would like Irving to move the terminal from the city centre, and have better security for cars stored on city tracks.